Lockdown work wins young scientists top awards

Two young scientists from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have won coveted prizes in specialist essay writing competitions.

Headshot of Sabrina Bennie smiling at the camera Head shot of Dr William Dunn smiling at the camera
Headshot of Sabrina Bennie smiling at the camera
Sabrina Bennie
Head shot of Dr William Dunn smiling at the camera
Dr William Dunn

Reproduction technologist, Sabrina Bennie, who is based at the Cambridge IVF clinic in Maris Lane, Trumpington, took first place in a scientific essay writing competition set by medical device group, Vitrolife.

Sabrina earned herself a fully-funded trip to the 37th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Paris where she will meet top scientists from across the world.

She reviewed the limited scientific literature on Covid-19 and its potential effects on male and female fertility and pregnancy and explained the methods used in the andrology and embryology laboratories at Cambridge IVF to guarantee safety and quality of services. 

Sabrina also summarised alternative methods used by other IVF laboratories across different countries, which were all experiencing different stages of the pandemic. She said:

I am delighted my essay was so well received and proud of the work we have achieved here at Cambridge IVF for the benefit of our patients. The trip to Paris is a great opportunity to meet experts from our field, exchange views with colleagues, and stay up to date with the latest research in the field.

Dr William Dunn, from CUH, is one of the winners in this year’s Lasker Essay Contest, which was open to bioscience and health medical students, biomedical and public health students, graduate students and post-doctorates. He receives $2,000 towards education expenses and a paid trip to New York for the 2021 Lasker Awards.

 Participants were asked to describe how a notable scientist had inspired them – through their personality or life experiences and/or through their scientific contributions. For his essay William wrote about Professor Stephen Hawking. He said:

Long before I started my medical career, as a schoolboy, Hawking had kindled my interest in science. Having discovered an aptitude for the natural sciences, I began reading A Brief History of Time during my summer holiday. Hawking’s ability to distil the complex laws governing the universe into a simple anecdote that could be understood by an ordinary boy such as myself ignited my passion for science by making this esoteric world of hypothesis and observation accessible and intriguing.